Modern private investigators take advantage of technology and tools that make their job more efficient. Google Maps is a tool that detectives can use to help plan travel or scout locations. Prior to conducing surveillance, it is wise for investigators to become familiar with the area. Detectives need to know the specific location on the map, the location of cross streets, layout of buildings and homes in the area, what obstructions may cause problems and more.
Although there are a number of mapping websites and apps available for the job, we recommend Google Maps for private investigators. The app provides comprehensive and accurate maps in 220 countries and territories. In addition, it provides detailed information on more than 100 million places, including the street view and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums, and more. With features like these, private eyes can get a true feel for a location before they ever set foot in the area.
If you know the specific location where you’ll be conducting surveillance, do the following to get prepared for your mission:
- Lookup the address using either the website or the app. Sometimes it’s better to use a computer during the planning stage to get a better, larger view of the area. Then use the app during the mission to look up specific things.
- Get a feel for the location using the both the map view, satellite view and the street view option
- Use the street view to understand the building structures in the area, noting the trees, bushes or other things that may prevent a clear view of the area you plan to watch
- Identify the best location for parking your vehicle. If you’ll be on foot, make note of how you’ll get to and from your vehicle without being seen.
- Make note of the best way to enter and exit the area to avoid being noticed
One important note: The images used for mapping and satellite view are fairly current. However, the images used for street view may be out of date, as they are more difficult for Google to keep up to date. We note this because things may have changed since the photos were taken. Use the tool during planning as a guide, but be prepared to adapt if the layout is not exactly what you viewed online.
Navigation and Traffic Monitoring
In addition to providing information on the location itself, Google Maps helps you get there more efficiently. The app provides transit directions and maps for over 15,000 towns and cities. Also, it provides voice-guided GPS navigation for driving, biking, and walking. This feature is helpful because it allows a private investigator to keep their hands free to drive, or to use video or surveillance equipment. Also, the apps provides live traffic conditions, incident reports, and automatic rerouting to find the best route when traveling or conducting mobile surveillance.
If you’re already in pursuit, Google Maps dynamically re-routes based on upcoming traffic patterns, helping you avoid traffic jams, which makes following subjects more manageable.
Educational Resources – Learn How to Use All of the Features
Rather than re-hash all of the instructions that explain how to use its features, we’d rather direct you to the latest information that is available from much better sources. Although there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of articles that explain how to use the various mapping, navigation and other features, the best place to learn is from those who created the product. Google provides some great resources including how-to reference guides, videos and tutorials at at http://www.google.com/earth/outreach/tutorials/#maps.
Another great resource for learning how to use the latest features is the Google Maps Help site at https://support.google.com/maps/?hl=en#topic=3092425. This great resource explains how to search and explore maps, how to get directions and plan trips and how to use advanced features. It also shows you how to use tools such as street view and Earth View, which may be particularly helpful for private investigators who are planning surveillance missions.
If you’re ready to go straight to watching a video, we recommend this one on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtXFWU4r9FQ.
Take the next step in preparing by using the Zillow app to investigate the specific house you’re planning to watch
Where to Download the App
The app is available for use on Android and Apple phones and tablets and can also be accessed via the web at http://maps.google.com. Android users who use such devices as the Samsung Galaxy or Note devices can visit Google Play to download. Follow the online instructions for downloading and installing the app. Private eyes who use Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads can download and install the app via iTunes.
Note: Some features are not available in all countries, so be sure to investigate what is available in the area where you plan on conducting surveillance.
Learn about other Private Investigator Apps and software for Private Eyes.